Monday, June 4, 2018

Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer ends his political career

What has happened to Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer since the 2018 primary election?

Although still the office holder, Meyer, who did not seek the nomination of the party for a fifth term as elected prosecutor, instead made a failed attempt to be the party’s nominee for Boone Circuit Court judge. Meyer was beat by Lori Schein in the 08 May primary. Tamie Morog also ran.

In 2002 Todd Meyer was ushered into office as a first term prosecutor for Boone County, Indiana. Since that time he has run unopposed for the office. In the 2010 primary while running unopposed he received 6274 votes. By contrast, total votes cast for sheriff’s office was 7714. Certainly some people saw no point in voting for an unopposed candidate. However, there has been a clear and growing contingent of citizens who oppose Meyer’s re-election. 2018 brought about Meyer’s foray into seeking higher office when a former chief deputy of his, Jeff Edens, retired as a one-term Boone Circuit Court judge.

Two others joined the race after Meyer. Both had dedicated campaign websites and reached out to the community. I was unable to find a dedicated site for Meyer but he did command a substantial newspaper presence and also appeared to be heavily favoured by owners of vacant commercial properties, some who live out of state.

Following the primary election I wrote about how voters can eject career politicians in Voters in Boone County Indiana choose to oust long-term officer holder. There I stated,
“Meyer was ejected from the next term of public office and, I think likely from future political office, because he lacks integrity. His interests are selfish.

I initially met him in 2003 and my first impression was that he was like the unskilled son who inherited the CEO position when daddy retired or died and is only able to put on the face of running the show because of the strength of those under him.

I felt that he was still on the tit. That he lacked the competence and fortitude to best serve the residents of Boone County. He is someone who gets upset, takes his toys and runs home to mommy for comfort. “


In the four weeks since the election Meyer has been noticeably absent from the prosecutor role. The people at the courthouse who usually keep me in-the-loop on these matters confirm his absence but in an unusually hushed tone as though something major has occurred. So now I suspect that Toddy gut upset that he wasn’t handed the position of judge as he had been prosecutor so he threw a tantrum, took his toys, and ran home to mommy.

But I could be in error.

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Voters in Boone County Indiana choose to oust long-term officer holder

I often hear the laments of voters and non-voters [which include those who feel that it is pointless] who decry the power that career politicians hold on political offices. A particular solution which is continually proposed is to restrict the options of the electorate. These proposals center on the contention that voters should be barred from choosing experienced office holders following a particular number of their terms in service. However, there already exist a limit on the number of terms officer holders may have which does not impinge upon the options voters may have. Here I use the recent primary and a particular office holder as illustrative of that.

Voters in Boone County Indiana made a strong statement in the 2018 Republican Primary race for Boone Circuit Court Judge this month by employing this limit.

The number of contestants exceeding positions for local elections in Boone County and its cities and towns are still somewhat unusual - County assessor, clerk and prosecutor all had single candidates. But after the sitting judge of the Boone Circuit Court, Jeff Edens, decided not to seek re-election three candidates filed to become the Republican nominee to fill that vacancy. Those were Todd Meyer [elected county prosecutor], Tamie Morog [an attorney in private practice], and Lori Schein [a former deputy Boone County prosecutor now working for the DMV].

Lori Schein narrowly beat Todd Meyer, edging him by just 41 votes. The final tally was 3478 [33.6%] Schein, 3437 [33.3%] Meyer, and 1491 [14.4%] Morog[fn1]. That outcome brought to an end Meyer’s 16 year reign in the Boone County Courthouse as the elected prosecutor.

Although not statutorily barred from seeking re-election to the Office of the Boone County Prosecutor or judge of the Boone Circuit Court voters instead chose to remove him from elected office by employing their existing term-limit option. Of the total voters casting ballots during the 2018 primary only 33% were for Meyer.

In the 2014 primary race 5469 of the 7185 voters selected Meyer. At that time he received 76% of the vote. In 2018 when two additional candidates were on the ballot he dropped to 33%. All it took was the addition of candidates. The unchallenged candidate to replace him as prosecutor received 6968 [67.4%] votes.

Apparently there was constituent dissatisfaction with the status quo even though he was repeatedly re-elected while running unchallenged.

His tenure could conservatively be described as a pay-to-play system where prosecutions were withheld against criminals represented in private practice by his deputy prosecutors, plea agreements were regularly offered [some which included financial payment in lieu of incarceration], and prosecutions were initiated against potential civil litigants to protect their targets.

Routinely offenders who had committed offenses against other people escaped punishment through guilty pleas while avoiding jail time. While police departments and their officers worked diligently in attempting to curtail offenses and hold offenders responsible, their efforts were regularly eschewed by a prosecutor who sought a high conviction rate over protecting the community. The political aspirations were readily apparent during his first term. Meyer intended to use the position of prosecutor not as an opportunity to best serve the community but, rather, as a launch pad for higher political office. His case history supports this contention.

In one such case Meyer brought charges against a parent whom he accused of planning to murder her teenage daughter who had Down-Syndrome. Meyer alleged that the mother had surreptitiously placed over 100 pills into a soda can and gave to the daughter thus causing her death. After all pre-trial efforts by the defense team were denied by Judge Rebecca McClure [former prosecutor and deputy prosecutor currently], Meyer offered a plea to a reduced charge calling for 6 months of jail time and three years of probation. Meyer, being aided by McClure from the bench, should have had a slam-dunk case of a parent murdering a disabled child as he alleged. However, rather than risk anything other that a jury verdict of guilty he offered a plea -- six months in jail, as time served awaiting trial, for allegedly murdering a disabled child.

Recently a Letter to the Editor of mine was printed in the Lebanon Reporter in response to Meyer’s contradictory messages regarding the killing of Boone County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Pickett and a plea agreement reached in a hostage taking incident where two juveniles were accosted and held at gunpoint. The plea agreement in the hostage taking incident was to the offense of not being licensed to carry the handgun used in the crime. In effect Meyer stated that had the offender obtained a license to carry the gun used in the crime that no offense would have occurred.

His contradictory statements about the revolving door for criminals sentenced by judges and his statement that judges give appropriate sentences, couple with his pleas that call for little or no incarceration, is the epitome of politically motivated action.

Meyer has been tough on some people though. Particularly when it comes to false allegations. In one highly publicized case Meyer sought convictions against victims of an arson fire. There, John Dixon was arrested and charged with a multitude of crimes including arson. This charge was based upon evidence as alleged in the charging information that; 1] Dixon ran from his burning residence after awakening to the fire, 2] moved his vehicle away from the front of the building, and 3] kept a small gas can in his work truck. Additionally, his girlfriend with whom he cohabitated was also charged in relation to the fire. Although charges against Dixon were dropped when John Middleton admitted to setting the fire, the girlfriend went to trial before a jury in the courtroom occupied by Rebecca McClure who clearly expressing hostility toward this fire victim, at one point slamming a folder on the bench and declaring that the victim was wasting the jurors’ time.

About 40 minutes after the conclusion of the trial the jury returned a not guilty verdict and two of the jurors hugged her and expressed their regret that she had been again victimized by having to go through the trial. She had already lost her home and contents including pets, children’s photos and momentos, plus other irreplaceables to an arsonist. A plea was offered to her calling for one year of no-report probation, no fees, and expungement of conviction upon the termination of the year but, as an innocent victim, she honorably declined the offer.

Then there are a multitude of Domestic Violence cases in which victims were prosecuted, charges were withheld against perpetrators, and perpetrators were overcharged. No consistency at all. When it comes to Domestic Violence in Boone County who you are and how you are related to government employees matters greatly.

You have likely heard that when it comes to criminal charges the amount you can pay to defend yourself has substantial influence on the outcome. In short, “justice” is for sale and poor people can’t buy their way out. Jack Trudeau, the Zionsville resident who played for the Indianapolis Colts was convicted of hosting an underage drinking party. In 2007, through a plea agreement, he paid a $5000 fine in lieu of jail time. In 2015 under a combined plea agreement he was sentenced to three days in jail after threatening to kill a Zionsville Police Officer and for his second drunk driving offense. His BAC was .31 in the immediate case.

Finally, as far as what I am mentioning here, is the use of the office for personal objectives. Twice I was charged and jailed for alleged crimes but when it came time to get the matters before jurors I was stymied at every turn by Meyer and his cohort Judge Steve David. Even after charges were dismissed and I filed a motion to reinstate the felony charge, risking imprisonment if found guilty, and demand for jury trial Judge David denied that request.

I had previously alleged through invitations to the trial posted around Lebanon that corruption by Judge David and Todd Meyer would be revealed at trial. Meyer filed a motion asking David to vacate the trial which he did without giving me an opportunity to respond.

I had also drafted a charge against Meyer for prosecutorial misconduct and submitted to the Disciplinary Commission of the Indiana Supreme Court which subsequently charged him with the offense. Although the underlying action of the alleged offense was published in a local newspaper no judge, lawyer, law enforcement officer or any other person aligned with the judicial system bothered to report the offense. That says quite a bit in itself.

Clearly Boone County residents had experienced enough of Meyer’s 16-year reign as prosecutor where these and similar incidents were the norm. Although Meyer had overwhelming support from owners of vacant properties throughout Lebanon it was not enough to overcome the feelings of his victims throughout Boone County - those people who have been impacted by the gross mishandling of the Office of the Boone County Prosecutor.

Meyer intended to use the Office of Boone County Prosecutor as a stepping stone to higher office. This is evinced by his frequent use of special prosecutors. He gains political clout for bringing the charge and “taking aggressive action” but then seeks a special prosecutor knowing that the case will crumble.

Voters can limit the number of terms of their elected officials and they don’t need a legislative act limiting their options to do it. What is needed is challengers of high ethical character who are willing to subject themselves to the grilling of the protectors of the status quo.

Meyer was ejected from the next term of public office and, I think likely from future political office, because he lacks integrity. His interests are selfish.

I initially met him in 2003 and my first impression was that he was like the unskilled son who inherited the CEO position when daddy retired or died and is only able to put on the face of running the show because of the strength of those under him.

I felt that he was still on the tit. That he lacked the competence and fortitude to best serve the residents of Boone County. He is like the child who gets upset, takes his toys and runs home to mommy for comfort.

He and other politicians like him should pack up and run home. Our elected officials should, foremost, demonstrate integrity. As voters it is our duty to demand it and throw them out when they don’t demonstrate it. Political office holders are bound by so many rules and receive ample assistance and advice from advisors that little more than character fitness is necessary.

Footnotes
1] Total does not equal 100% because voters choosing a Democrat ballot could not select Republican nominees. Total votes were 10336. Total votes for Republican nominees for circuit court judge were 8406. Highest vote for a Democrat position was 1583. Party selection of 347 voters is unknown.

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Boone Circuit Court judge candidate Lori Schein in her own words

I asked each of the candidates six questions relating to what may be described as a candidate’s platform. These included the operation of the court, what they thought they could do to better serve the people appearing in court, their personal motivation to be a candidate, and what they could do to mitigate the impact of custody cases on children. Finally, I offered them an opportunity to submit an essay of any length to be reproduced here word-for-word. I did not ask for comment on specific cases or for prejudicial opinions -- that is, how he or she would rule on a potential matter before the court.

I contacted Lori Schein through Facebook to get an email address from her. She replied and I sent the questionnaire to that email address after having also sent it through her contact form on her campaign site. I had requested responses by the 16th, about one week later, but had not received a response by then. I sent a reminder to her email on the 18th.

As of 9:00am today I have not received a response to the questionnaire. If one is subsequently received I will update this posting promptly.

I had no plans to gather information about the candidates from their promotional materials or any other source for my purpose here. To do so now would compromise objectivity. Instead I encourage you to seek out information elsewhere and to check back here in a few days.

Thank you for your interest in the election. The 2018 primary election occurs on Tuesday 08 May.

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Boone Circuit Court judge candidate Todd Meyer in his own words

I asked each of the candidates six questions relating to what may be described as a candidates platform. These included the operation of the court, what they thought they could do to better serve the people appearing in court, their personal motivation to be a candidate, and what they could do to mitigate the impact of custody cases on children. Finally, I offered them an opportunity to submit an essay of any length to be reproduced here word-for-word. I did not ask for comment on specific cases or for prejudicial opinions -- that is, how he or she would rule on a potential matter.

I received the following response from candidate Todd Meyer;

“Thank you for your message and for your interest in the judicial race for Boone Circuit Court. I reviewed your proposed questions and consulted with the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications and regretfully must decline participation in this process. As you may know, as a candidate for judicial office I am required to follow the rules set forth in Indiana’s Code of Judicial Conduct. While I would like to respond to your questions I believe doing so may put me at risk of violating certain sections of the Code of Judicial Conduct, specifically Rules 4.1 and 2.4 that are more specifically explained within the respective comments to those rules.”

First, I feel that I should disclose that Todd Meyer has an incident in his past relating to a rule violation while prosecutor. An extra-judicial statement [one made outside of the courtroom] about evidentiary matters in an upcoming trial were attributed to him in a newspaper article. The problem with discussing evidence outside of the courtroom is that it could reach potential jurors yet later be ruled inadmissable. This potentially deprives the defendant of due process. It is a rather serious offense.

A complaint was made to the Disciplinary Commission of the Indiana Supreme Court not by the defendant, the defendant’s attorney, nor any other attorney but by the author here, yours truly -- Stuart Showalter. Meyer was susequently charged with misconduct. Thus, it is understandable that he would be reticent to provide comment to questions about judicial administration, especially to me.

I had no plans to gather information about the candidates from their promotional materials or any other source for my purpose here. To do so now would compromise objectivity. Instead I am providing the text of the two rules Mr Meyer cited and I will leave it to you to do your research or otherwise.

RULE 2.4: External Influences on Judicial Conduct
(A) A judge shall not be swayed by public clamor or fear of criticism.
(B) A judge shall not permit family, social, political, financial, or other interests or relationships to influence the judge's judicial conduct or judgment.
(C) A judge shall not convey or permit others to convey the impression that any person or organization is in a position to influence the judge.
Comment
[1] An independent judiciary requires that judges decide cases according to the law and facts, without regard to whether particular laws or litigants are popular or unpopular with the public, the media, government officials, or the judge's friends or family. Confidence in the judiciary is eroded if judicial decision making is perceived to be subject to inappropriate outside influences.

RULE 4.1: Political and Campaign Activities of Judges and Judicial Candidates in General
(A) Except as permitted by law,* or by Rules 4.1(B), 4.1(C), 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4, a judge or a judicial candidate* shall not:
(1) act as a leader in or hold an office in a political organization;*
(2) make speeches on behalf of a political organization;
(3) publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for any public office;
(4) solicit funds for, pay an assessment to, or make a contribution* to a political organization or a candidate for public office;
(5) attend or purchase tickets for dinners or other events sponsored by a political organization or a candidate for public office;
(6) publicly identify himself or herself as a member or candidate of a political organization;
(7) seek, accept, or use endorsements from a political organization;
(8) personally solicit* or accept campaign contributions other than through a campaign committee authorized by Rule 4.4;
(9) use or permit the use of campaign contributions for the private benefit of the judge, the candidate, or others;
(10) use court staff, facilities, or other court resources in a campaign for judicial office or for any political purpose;
(11) knowingly,* or with reckless disregard for the truth, make any false or misleading statement;
(12) make any statement that would reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a matter pending* or impending* in any court; or
(13) in connection with cases, controversies, or issues that are likely to come before the court, make pledges, promises, or commitments that are inconsistent with the impartial* performance of the adjudicative duties of judicial office.
(B) A judge or judicial candidate shall take reasonable measures to ensure that other persons do not undertake, on behalf of the judge or judicial candidate, any activities prohibited under paragraph (A).
(C) A judge in an office filled by partisan election, a judicial candidate seeking that office, and a judicial officer serving for a judge in office filled by partisan election may at any time:
(1) identify himself or herself as a member of a political party;
(2) voluntarily contribute to and attend meetings of political organizations; and
(3) attend dinners and other events sponsored by political organizations and may purchase a ticket for such an event and a ticket for a guest.
(D) A judge in an office filled by nonpartisan election other than a retention election, a judicial candidate seeking that office, and a judicial officer serving for a judge in an office filled by nonpartisan election may at any time attend dinners and other events sponsored by political organizations and may purchase a ticket for such an event and a ticket for a guest.

Thank you for your interest in the election. The 2018 primary election occurs on Tuesday 08 May.

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Boone Circuit Court judge candidate Tamie Morog in her own words

I asked each of the candidates six questions relating to what may be described as a candidate’s platform. These included the operation of the court, what they thought they could do to better serve the people appearing in court, their personal motivation to be a candidate, and what they could do to mitigate the impact of custody cases on children. Finally, I offered them an opportunity to submit an essay of any length to be reproduced here word-for-word. I did not ask for comment on specific cases or for prejudicial opinions -- that is, how he or she would rule on a potential matter before the court.

Tamie Morog says she wants to be the next Boone Circuit Court judge because she places families first. She feels that the incoming judge should have practical life experience as well as legal experience so as to foster just outcomes through applying the law to the facts. Additionally, she wants to implement her ideas to help decrease the illegal drug usage in our county.

Morog sees the high number of people coming into the courts without representation -- pro se litigants -- as the biggest problem facing the judiciary in Boone County and nationally. Nationally, in the majority of family law cases at least one party appears without representation. Morog states that the pro se litigants usually aren’t aware of “the ways to settle their cases out of court such as mediation, arbitration, Collaborative Law, etc. They take more time for the judiciary than their issues should take and do not provide the evidence that the Court needs to make the best decision for their family or their issue(s).”

Judges in the county courts have authority to set local rules to effectuate the efficient operation of their courts.

On the criminal side Morog would like to implement a drug court. She notes that although they “take more time at the beginning for the judge, drug courts have been found to be successful in various counties in Indiana” as well as in other jurisdictions.

On the civil side Morog would like to implement a local rule that orders that before the parties in a domestic relations case -- family law -- can litigate in Court they must spend some time in an Alternative Dispute Resolution [ADR] forum. I have proposed and will continue to push for mandatory ADR at the state level in all child custody cases. For those of us who have worked in the child custody arena we know, as Morog says, “Court is the last place a family law case should be decided. Preparing for and litigating a case causes more harm, including money, for the family than good. In mediation, Collaborative Law, arbitration and other ADR methods the parents can work together for the best interests of the children and the family as a whole.”

Additionally, Morog notes that judges can order parents in custody disputes into mediation, counseling for the children, appointment of Parenting Coordination and can avail themselves of other resources to mitigate conflict.

In conclusion, Tamie Morog in her own words -

I have practiced family law in courts in Boone County and around central Indiana for 17 years. Boone County Circuit Court hears divorce cases and is the only court in Boone County where juvenile delinquency, Children in Need of Services (“CHINS”), and paternity (children born out of wedlock) cases are filed. If we work on the problems facing the Families in our county, many other issues will be decreased and/or resolved.

I have also raised 3 successful daughters; have a business degree from Ball State University; concentrated in tax and corporate law in law school, where I graduated Cum Laude, and; my husband and I have owned several successful businesses. Therefore, I have the general knowledge to sit on the bench where business, contract and other cases of general jurisdiction may be litigated.

My knowledge and experience make me the ideal candidate for this position.


Thank you for your interest in the election. The 2018 primary election occurs on Tuesday 08 May.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Selecting the 2018 Boone County Circuit Court Judge

Contested political races in Boone County, Indiana are somewhat unusual. When it comes to the courthouse office holders it is quite so. This year it is refreshing to see that we have three candidates vying to be the Republican nominee for the position of Boone Circuit Court Judge. As there are numerous candidates, it is more important for the electorate to be aware of the qualities one should possess to hold the office. Before addressing essential attributes to be a Circuit Court judge it is necessary for voters to know what the position entails which I have found that many prospective voters do not.

Van Gogh could upend your confidence in him as a painter if presented with a 5-gallon bucket of exterior latex, an air compressor and a spray gun. Likewise, the recent immigrant who has used those tools while efficiently and fabulously bring new life to a home by applying a fresh coat of paint may fail miserably when presented with a blank canvas and a palette of oils. Both of these “painters” who may be wholly capable in their own niche may not be the appropriate candidate as your “painter”. Such it is with being a Circuit Court “judge”.

The Indiana Code provides the case types of a Circuit Court judge:

IC 33-28-1-2
Jurisdiction
Sec. 2. (a) All circuit courts have:
(1) original and concurrent jurisdiction in all civil cases and in all criminal cases;
(2) de novo appellate jurisdiction of appeals from city and town courts; and
(3) in Marion County, de novo appellate jurisdiction of appeals from township small claims courts established under IC 33-34.
(b) The circuit court also has the appellate jurisdiction that may be conferred by law upon it.

Boone Circuit Court judge candidate Tamie Morog in her own words

Boone Circuit Court judge candidate Todd Meyer in his own words

Boone Circuit Court judge candidate Lori Schein in her own words

In reviewing the qualities of a candidate for a judicial office there are particular attributes relevant to the office which may not be relevant to other positions or reflective of personal ethics otherwise. The Judicial Canons[fn1] provide structural ethical rules but there are characteristics which subsists these. The judicial office carries with it a particular immense responsibility that is paramount to all others and has been given considerable attention in the US Constitution as well as the Constitution of the State of Indiana.

From the US Constitution comes these protections for those accused of offenses. An accused is entitled to; not answer to a crime except upon presentment of indictment, protection against double jeopardy, protection against self-incrimination, due process[fn2], a jury trial, compel the attendance of favourable witnesses, the assistance of counsel[fn3] bail in an amount not deemed excessive[fn4] and the presumption of innocence[fn5].

All of these are designed to serve to protect the liberty of the falsely accused defendant[fn6]. Before reaching the judge there is a series of screens intended to protect the accused. The accuser is required to make a sworn accusation under penalty of perjury. This may be a private individual or a law enforcement agent. Then a charge may be issued unilaterally by a prosecutor or upon return of an indictment by a grand jury. It has been said, however, that even a novice prosecutor can get an indictment returned against a ham sandwich. The defendant has the right to a trial by jury which is to judge both the defendant and the law. There is also a continuing obligation to protect the falsely accused which extends from prior to the filing of a charge to the termination of the defendant’s trial.

A prosecutor who has an extremely high or 100% conviction rate should rightfully be viewed with suspicion. This is because the prosecutor is imbued with a quasi-judicial mandate. That is, he or she is to seek justice[fn7]. Thus, the prosecutor has just as great of an obligation to seek the acquittal of a defendant who is falsely accused as he does a conviction for the truly guilty. This concept is manifest in the rules which delineate a prosecutor’s obligation to unilaterally disclose discovered exculpatory evidence to the defendant, enthusiastically respond to discovery requests, and not debark from a course of investigation which may exonerate the defendant [fn8].

The judicial officer should always view a defendant with the presumption of innocence. I recall being in the chambers of a judge who had been on the bench for over 20 years. He terminated our conversation by saying, “I have to go do the arraignment of this kid who murdered . . .” and we departed. This arraignment was his first encounter with the accused. If he was asked at the time if he thought the accused was guilty he would have said he presumes him to be innocent and he will wait for the trial or something to that effect. Clearly, by what he said to me privately, he was not beholden to the presumption of innocence for all defendants. I would later write an appellate brief which would lead to a judgment of his being overturned and it further established case precedent [case law] for an accused’s right to court appointed counsel in certain situations.

A final protection for members of society accused of offenses that should be embraced by a judge is that the jury has the right to determine the law[fn9]. This right arises under the democratic republic concept that government is ordained by and emanates from the will of the people not that government rules the people. Thus under a strict application of the jury nullification concept any member of a jury should be able to declare, “I believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the charge but I do not agree that the law as applied in this case is just or I do not support the existence of the law so I, therefore, find in favour of the defendant -- not guilty”. The citizenry -- as jurors -- would have the ultimate veto power over the legislature. However, the Indiana Supreme Court has neutered this constitutional protection[fn10]. A juror is under no obligation to explain the decision reached to anyone.

A judge who does not embody this concept or is resistant to a jury being informed of their right in this regard has relinquished neutrality -- a theoretical hallmark of the judiciary.

The position of Circuit Court judge also includes the assignment of certain civil cases. Adoption cases are one of these. This may involve cases where a parent has voluntarily placed the child for adoption of where the State has moved to terminate the rights of the parents and place the child for adoption. These are awesome responsibilities. The right to direct the upbringing of a child has been declared a “fundamental parental right”[fn11] commensurate with protections in the Bill of Rights. Severing parents from their children has a lifelong impact on those parents and, more significantly, the children. The person making that decision must exhibit a keen sense of human behaviour, must be able to empathize with the child and parents, and not be swayed by the weight of the status of the state.

Similarly, there are family law cases involving child custody where one parent initiates suit against another to gain a government mandate dictating the time allocation of each parent apportioned to the child as well as who legal responsibilities will be conferred upon. These can be contentious proceedings. My expertise and practice has been focused on the high conflict parents and mitigating that conflict. While the State is not moving to restrict or terminate a parents’ access to the child in these cases the decision a judge makes can still have just as profound of an impact. Possibly more because these cases may involve parents who passionately care about the well-being of their child [but are selfish] rather than abusive or neglectful parents. These custodial decisions must be made with a full understanding of the impact upon the lives of the people involved. It is not a perfunctory or mechanical task.

In deciding upon who to select as my choice for judge there are few documentary or statistical exhibits which will hold much sway. Although have been a member of the lawyer cartel is a statutory requirement trial experience is of little importance. Rather, I seek someone who shows the character traits that he or she intends to serve the interest of the people, that personal preferences or biases are checked at the door, that court appearances can be stressful and upsetting moments for people and they should be handled accordingly, that judgments are not formulated until conclusion of submission of evidence, and that no amount of time is wasted if it is in furtherance of reaching a just conclusion. Finally though is that the candidate must embrace the concept that he or she is there upon the will of the people and serves at the mercy of the people.

On 09 April I sent a questionnaire to each of the three candidates comprised of six questions and an essay section where I will publish, word-for-word, whatever they have to say about themselves. I requested that responses be returned no later than the 16th of April. I will soon publish the results of each individually and simultaneously.

Notes
1] http://www.in.gov/judiciary/rules/jud_conduct/
2] US Constitution Amendment V
3] US Constitution Amendment VI
4] US Constitution Amendment VIII
5] In a fraud scheme involving the Indiana National Bank the Court stated, “The principle that there is a presumption of innocence in favor of the accused is the undoubted law, axiomatic and elementary, and its enforcement lies at the foundation of the administration of our criminal law.” Coffin v. United States, 156 U.S. 432 (1895)
6] It is held that "[g]uilt in a criminal case must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt and by evidence confined to that which long experience in the common law tradition, to some extent embodied in the Constitution, has crystalized into rules of evidence consistent with that standard. These rules are historically grounded rights of our system, developed to safeguard men from dubious and unjust convictions, with resulting forfeitures of life, liberty and property." Brinegar v. United States, supra, at 338 U. S. 174.
The burden of proof in criminal trials is based upon “a fundamental value determination of our society that it is far worse to convict an innocent man than to let a guilty man go free." In re WINSHIP, 397 U.S. 358, 90 S. Ct. 1068, 25 L. Ed. 2d 368 (1970)
7] In Brady v. Maryland, 373 U. S. 83, 473 U. S. 87 (1963), this Court held that "the suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or punishment."
8] AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION Fourth Edition of the CRIMINAL JUSTICE STANDARDS for the PROSECUTION FUNCTION Standard 3-5.4(a) After charges are filed if not before, the prosecutor should diligently seek to identify all information in the possession of the prosecution or its agents that tends to negate the guilt of the accused, mitigate the offense charged, impeach the government’s witnesses or evidence, or reduce the likely punishment of the accused if convicted.
ibid (e) A prosecutor should timely respond to legally proper discovery requests, and make a diligent effort to comply with legally proper disclosure obligations, unless otherwise authorized by a court.
ibid (g) A prosecutor should not avoid pursuit of information or evidence because the prosecutor believes it will damage the prosecution's case or aid the accused.
9] “In all criminal cases whatever, the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the facts.” Article I, Section 19 of the Indiana Constitution
10] In a 3-2 decision the Indiana Supreme Court found - Although there may be some value in instructing Indiana jurors that they have a right to "refuse to enforce the law's harshness when justice so requires," the source of that right cannot be found in Article I, Section 19 of the Indiana Constitution. This Court's latest pronouncement on the subject is correct: "[I]t is improper for a court to instruct a jury that they have a right to disregard the law. Notwithstanding Article 1, Section 19 of the Indiana Constitution, a jury has no more right to ignore the law than it has to ignore the facts in a case." Bivins v. State, 642 N.E.2d 928, 946 (Ind.1994)
Holden v. State, 788 NE 2d 1253 - Ind: Supreme Court 2003
Here is Justice Dickson, who joined Rucker in dissenting and whose dissent was joined by Rucker:
First, I disagree with the majority’s understanding of Holden v. State, 788 N.E.2d1253, 1253-54 (Ind.2003). Although not part of the majority’s actual holding but only reflected in its preliminary commentary, today’s opinion expresses a view that Holden stands for the proposition that Indiana juries do not have the power to acquit despite overwhelming evidence in criminal cases. To the contrary, I believe that this Court unanimously acknowledged in Holden that our state’s early jurisprudence held that, in the exercise of its law-determining function under Article 1, Section 19 of the Indiana Constitution, a jury could disregard the instructions of the trial court, but had no right to disregard the law. Id. at 1254, citing Blaker v. State, 130 Ind. 203, 204, 29 N.E. 1077, 1077-78 (1892). Our analysis in Holden also noted recent views from other jurisdictions and discussed recent academic literature arguing that a jury’s right to decide the law did not encompass the right to nullify. Holden, 788 N.E.2d at 1255. Holden did not attempt to resolve these competing perspectives, but rather issued a narrow holding focused on the propriety of expressly advising the jury that “you [have] the latitude to `refuse to enforce the law’s harshness when justice so requires,'” an instruction that had been tendered but refused. Id. at 1253. We held only that a jury should not be affirmatively instructed that it has a right to disregard the law, and that the tendered instruction was properly refused. In my view, however, Holden does not prohibit Indiana juries from exercising their historic power to find in favor of a criminal defendant despite substantial contrary evidence.
. . .
Third, the majority acknowledges that the rejected jury instruction was a correct statement of law, but declares that it would have been inappropriate to inform the jury of this legal principle because of the effect it might produce. . . . [T]he majority concludes that the substance of this instruction was adequately communicated to the jury by the following instruction: “[Y]ou have the right to determine both the law and the facts. The Court’s instructions are your best source in determining the Law.” Id. at 261. I cannot agree that this latter, broad, unspecific, and opaque instruction was adequate to inform the jury of the legal principal embodied in the defendant’s tendered instruction . . . .
Innocuous, generic, non-specific jury instructions are not an adequate substitute for plain-language advisements that meaningfully explain to jurors the reality of their rights and permissible function under the law. In my view, the resulting obfuscation and secrecy is inconsistent with the Rule of Law.
Because I believe that the defendant was entitled to have the jury meaningfully instructed regarding its right to find in favor of a criminal defendant despite substantial contrary evidence, a historic right of American juries and one additionally preserved in Section 19 of the Indiana Bill of Rights, I dissent from the majority’s opinion.
11] “In a long line of cases, we have held that, in addition to the specific freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights, the ‘liberty’ specially protected by the Due Process Clause includes the righ[t] … to direct the education and upbringing of one’s children” which is referred to as “[T]hat fundamental parental right.” TROXEL V. GRANVILLE (99-138) 530 U.S. 57 (2000)



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